Youngberg Law Firm discusses the process of uncontested divorces in Texas.

Uncontested Divorces

An uncontested divorce is much more streamlined than a contested divorce. It is quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce as the parties have agreed to all key terms of the divorce and so litigation is not necessary. Reaching a point where you are able to seek an uncontested divorce, however, is difficult because, as previously stated, you and your spouse must agree to all key terms of the divorce. This includes agreeing on things like division of debts, division of property, Possession schedules and conservatorship for children, and spousal maintenance. If you and your spouse have achieved this, however, you may proceed in seeking an uncontested divorce.

What is the Process for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

To seek an uncontested divorce in Texas, you must, first and foremost, meet residency requirements. You or your spouse must have resided in Texas for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. Furthermore, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing for at least 3 months. If you meet these residency requirements, you are clear to start the process by getting a Petition of Divorce form. You can get this at the county court clerk’s office in the county district court where you reside. Complete the form and provided all requested information pertaining to your finances and proposed settlement arrangements. Sign the petition and return it to the clerk’s office. You will need two copies of the form and be required to pay a filing fee. You will then be assigned to a court and a case number by the clerk.

A copy of the petition must be delivered to your spouse. This can be done through the sheriff’s office or by a private process server. You may, however, get a Waiver of Citation form from the clerk which, if properly executed by your spouse, replaces the need for formal process served on your spouse. It is an especially good option in an uncontested divorce where both parties are trying to get the divorce resolved as easily as possible. You will need to mail the Waiver of Citation form along with a copy of the petition to your spouse. Your spouse will need to sign the waiver which shows that he or she is agreeing not to be served the petition by a court representative. The proof of service will need to be filed with the clerk’s office and then will schedule your court hearing. The hearing cannot occur until 60 days have passed since filing.

The 60-day waiting period is a good time to iron out any remaining settlement agreement details and prepare a final divorce decree which sets forth the details of the settlement agreement. Bring this Final Decree of Divorce with you when you go to court to “prove-up” your divorce. The judge will review the paperwork. You will need to testify about your marriage and divorce before the court. Some sample Testimony can be found here: 

Only one of the spouses will need to appear in court and testify. Once that is done, the Court will sign the Final Decree of Divorce, as long as it meets the court’s requirements.

Once the order has been signed by the judge, you will need to take it to the clerk’s office for filing and get two certified copies. Give one copy to your former spouse. The other copy is for your own records. 

Challenges of Uncontested Divorces

Working towards an uncontested divorce is not always, or often, easy. There are many contentious issues that must be agreed upon before it is possible. There are also many potential pitfalls in the process of drafting your Final Decree of Divorce. Even parties with the best of intentions can make big mistakes in drafting their decrees that can take years and thousands of dollars to fix, if at all.

Check out our blog on whether an uncontested divorce is a good fit for you here: http://youngberg.wpengine.com//2019/04/25/uncontested-divorce-do-i-need-a-lawyer/

Trusted Texas Divorce Counsel

The Youngberg Law Firm can help you with this process. We can review a proposed settlement agreement to make sure it is in your best interest to proceed. Also, we will be there for you if an uncontested divorce turns into a contested divorce. Oftentimes couples start off on more agreeable footing and things get heated when discussing the settlement agreement. This leads to breakdowns in communication and people who started with the best of intentions end up in a bitter contested divorce. We can help you avoid contention and move on with your life. Whatever the situation may be, we are here for you. Contact us today.

two sets of hands across table

Uncontested Divorce: Do I need a lawyer
to get divorced?

Divorce is an expensive process no matter how you go about it. The filing fees alone typically cost $300.00 or more. If both you and your spouse hire attorneys, the short-term costs will only get higher. You may think to yourself that, despite the fact that you are getting divorced, you and your spouse get along well enough to reach an agreement so why hire an attorney?

Do it yourself divorce has become a popular way for people to save money while going through an expensive process. The Supreme Court of Texas has released forms to assist people who want to handle their divorce or other family law matter themselves. These forms help to ensure that the right information is presented to the court so that you have a valid Petition, Answer/Waiver of Service, or Final Decree. However, many people struggle to fill out the forms correctly and have their Petitions and Decrees rejected by the court.

Every day across the State of Texas, divorcees attempt to file their Final Decrees created from the Supreme Court forms and have their orders rejected. While the judges and the clerks would like to help you make sure that the forms are correct, they are not able to give legal advice. Having your divorce decree rejected by the court with limited explanation is a frustrating experience on top of the already stressful and emotionally draining process of getting divorce. Getting a divorce is a complex process and it necessarily requires more knowledge and instruction than the Supreme court’s forms can possibly contain.

Some Factors to Consider Before you Decide on a DIY Divorce

I have heard that doing your own divorce is kind of like doing your own brain surgery, you can do it, but it’s not recommended. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether you are a good candidate for a “DIY” Divorce:

  • How well do you really get along with your spouse?
  • Do you have children?
  • What kind of possession schedule will you have?
  • How will you divide your children’s expenses in the future?
  • What kind of child support will you need?
  • What kind of property are you dividing?
  • How well do you know your financial situation?

How well do you really get along with your spouse?

This is a fair question because, after all, you are getting divorced. Divorce is the formal legal end to your relationship, but that doesn’t mean that all of the emotions and stresses of being in a relationship will go away. In fact, this stress and the negative characteristics of your spouse may show up even stronger as you go through this process.

Do you feel pressured to reach an agreement? Do you feel like you are giving up too much ground and not getting any concessions from your spouse? It’s an all too common situation that one partner is willing to give up the farm in order to keep the peace. If you feel like you are that peacemaker, you may want to meet with an attorney so that you know your rights and you make sure that you are protected. While it is always desirable to have a peaceful divorce, this is the end of your romantic relationship with your partner and you should approach this in as business-like a manner as possible. An experienced family lawyer can help you to set the emotions aside and work to get what is fair.

Children in Divorce

If you have children, they are probably your #1 consideration as you get divorced. There are myriad issues that need to be addressed to make sure your children are taken care of after the divorce. From decisions on where your children are going to live, to the kind of medical care they will receive, and whether and when either you or your spouse will be allowed to introduce the children to any new partners you may have, there are a wide variety of issues to consider. The more issues you plan for now at the outset of your divorce, the smoother your post-divorce life will be.

Possession Schedules

There are a wide variety of possession schedules. The most common schedule is the Standard Possession Order. Generally, the Standard Possession Order gives the non-primary parent possession of the Child(ren) on the first, third and fifth weekends from 6:00 p.m. on Friday, until 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday, with a period of possession from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on each Thursday during the school year. The non-primary parent also has a 30-day period of possession in the summer and the spouses alternate holidays. Many people also opt for an “Expanded” Standard Possession Order which extends the Thursday periods overnight and allows the non-primary parent to pick up and drop off at school.

Often when spouses are reaching an agreement on their divorce, they will have some form of 50/50 possession schedule. There are as many varieties of this kind of schedule as people can dream up, from Week on/Week off, to 2-2-3 and 2-2-5-5 and even monthly alternating and nesting schedules. The sky is the limit. The challenge with these schedules is that the more unique and tailored your schedule is to your unique situation, the more challenging it is to ensure that your schedule will be enforceable by the court.

While you may be able to reach an agreement now, uncontested divorces often lead to contested modifications. When those issues arise, will your DIY divorce be able to be enforced by the court? The more complicated your schedule, the less likely it will be to be enforceable. A qualified experienced family lawyer can help you to make sure that the court can enforce your divorce if needed.

Children’s Expenses

As every parent knows, kids are expensive. Extracurricular activities, school supplies and fees, private school tuition, clothing, cell phones, medical bills and insurance, car insurance and payments, etc.; there is no end to the expenses that children incur. Deciding how those expenses will be divided now can help to ease the stress of your divorce in the long run. It is a fine line between making sure each parent is sharing the financial load fairly and limiting the amount of interaction you have to have with your spouse. A family lawyer can help you to reach that balance and make sure your spouse carries their share of the burden.

Child Support

Child Support in Texas is a thorny issue. While it is relatively simple to calculate guideline child support in Texas, it is not applicable to all situations. There are various factors to be considered whenever you are calculating support and your particular possession schedule is a big factor. Another thing to keep in mind is that in Denton County, most of the judges will require you to have some child support if you have anything less than a 50/50 possession schedule. Meeting with a Family Lawyer can help you to weigh these factors and come up with a fair amount for support.

Property Division

The kind of property that you own is a big consideration in whether you should seek professional help with your divorce. If you own a home and you have a mortgage for which both of you are responsible, you will need additional legal documents to help you divide the property and/or to protect your interest in the home. If you have vehicles, you will need to make sure they are titled in the right person’s name and that any loans are assigned to the right person. Are you dividing retirement plans? Will you need a qualified domestic relations order to divide those accounts? What are the tax and other financial implications of dividing these accounts. Are you dividing a business? There are many factors to consider and the more property, and kinds of property, that you have to divide the more complicated that question becomes. People often make mistakes while dividing their property that could have been avoided with the help of an experienced family lawyer. If you have a house, a mortgage, a business, or a retirement account you should probably meet with a lawyer to make sure the division is done properly.

Your Financial Situation

Do you know all of your bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.? Do you know all of your spouse’s? If you do, that’s great, but often people don’t know the whole financial picture. That’s true even in cases where their spouse isn’t actively trying to hide anything. You want to be certain that when you get divorced you don’t leave any accounts undivided so that you don’t have to go through a post-divorce division of property case. You also want to make sure that you get your fair share of the accounts that do exist. There are tools that an experienced family lawyer can use to get your spouse to disclose any and all accounts and to ensure that there are consequences for their failure to do so.

Conclusion

Even if you expect to have an uncontested divorce you may need the help of an experienced family lawyer to make sure that your divorce says what you intend. An experienced Denton County family lawyer at Youngberg Law Firm can help you to make sure that your Final Decree of Divorce says what you want it to. Michael Youngberg has been practicing in Denton and Collin County Texas for the past several years and he has experience handling complex property and children’s issues and can help ensure that your decree accomplishes your goals and is accepted by the court. Contact Michael Youngberg and Youngberg Law Firm today to set up a consultation to see how he can assist you.